Kenton City Council moved smoothly through their first meeting of 2017 on Monday evening. The meeting was brought to order by Council President Joel Althauser. There were no citizens requesting time to speak or communications and petitions.
During committee reports, the council heard from:
Finance - the Finance Committee will meet on Monday, February 6, 2017 at 5:30pm in council chambers.
Downtown Revitalization - the Downtown Revitalization Committee will be forming a "steering" committee to work with OHM, the engineering firm contracted to navigate Phase I of the project with the committee. This portion of the phase is to help better understand what the city, and the individual businesses incorporated within its limits, want from the project.
Regional Planning - the Regional Planning Committee met last week and determined that two projects would be funded through Issue II funds. The legislation was later voted on during old business.
Cemetary - the Cemetary Board is working on a layout for potential new roads and has begun discussing the possibility of a niche wall for cremations.
Council voted unanimously to pass three pieces of legislation during old business. The first vacated an alley in Forest Heights addition; the second and third authorized the mayor to execute a project agreement with the Ohio Public Works Commission (Issue II) for improvements to Silver Street and the intersection of East Columbus Street and Hester Street, respectively.
Prior to the start of the council meeting, council also held a public hearing to discuss the rezoning of approximately 45 acres for warehouse use located along State Route 68 and County Road 135. It was the opinion of council to agree with the rezoning and legislation will be forthcoming.
Annual reports were received from the Clerk of Council, Brenda Hanna; City Law Director, Jon Schwemer; and the Kenton Police Department Chief, Dennis Musser. Hanna's report detailed the 24 meetings held by the City Council, including 11 closed executive sessions, and 1 special session. The council passed 54 ordinances and 17 resolutions in 2016. Schwemer's report indicated that the duties of the Law Director had been complied with under the Ohio Revised Code, and no monies were collected by the office during 2016. Musser's report showed the amount of calls received by the department and the nature of such calls. Musser added that 2016 had been "a pretty rough year," but acknowledged that Kerri McLaughlin and Doris Lowe of the Deputy Auditor's office had been integral in helping him write and secure grants for the department. Musser also added that Kenton Police Department officers were now trained to carry 2 doses of Narcan, an opioid drug overdose reversal treatment, and 1 dose of a nasal form of Narcan. Musser finished his report by informing council that the department was in transition to using the Lexipol program, a public safety software system.
During the comments section, City Auditor Brian Hattery informed council that during his tenure with the city, he had seen increased spending; but, according to him, "miraculously or blessedly" the city had also seen an increase in income tax revenue to offset that spending. The city took in $200,000 more in income tax revenue for 2016 than expected. Hattery said that the loss of the Kenton K-Mart store would have an impact of approximately $11,000 per year on income tax revenue and told council that whether that amount was "a little or a lot" was at the discretion of council opinion. "It all depends on how you look at it," said Hattery.
Council also heard from Hardin County Chamber & Business Alliance President, Jon Cross, about several programs that would benefit Hardin County employment. The first is the Wildcat Community Connectors Program capstone presentations, to be held at Mid-Ohio Energy Cooperative's Community Room at 10:30am on Tuesday, January 10. The second is the Economic Development meeting, to be held on Friday, January 20. An inaugural student career fair will be held at Kenton High School on Friday, February 10, with all Hardin County seniors attending. Businesses are encouraged to participate to meet directly with the future workforce of Hardin County in an informational setting. Lastly, the Annual Meeting of the Chamber & Business Alliance will be held at Ohio Northern University on Thursday, February 23, at 5:30pm. Cross told council that in 2016, Hardin County saw $25-$30 million in capital new investment. "Northwest Ohio is the place to develop right now; we are in a development hotspot," said Cross.
Mayor Randy Manns mentioned during his comments that a Martin Luther King, Jr. assembly would be held at Payne Chapel in Kenton at 10:00am on Monday, January 16.
With no further business or comments, council adjourned.
The next regular meeting of the Kenton City Council will be held on Monday, January 23, 2017 at 7:00pm in the City Building council chambers.